Wampanoag Collections

Wampanoag hoe blade 

1.         Hoe blade, granite, excavated at Plimoth Plantation

Corn was one of the most important foods for Wampanoag and other Native peoples.  Each spring, women cultivated corn, planting it in raised hills along with beans and squash, and weeding and hoeing the soil over the summer.  This granite hoe, which would have been lashed to a wooden handle, was found at the Museum’s Wampanoag Homesite during an archaeological excavation.




 Pestle found in Plymouth County, MA

2.         Pestle (hornfels), Plymouth County, MA

Once harvested, corn was ground in a wooden mortar using a stone pestle. The resulting flour could be baked into bread, or used to thicken soups or stews.




 Clay pot found near Cape Cod

3.         Clay cooking pot, 1500-1600, excavated from the banks of the Cape Cod Canal

Wampanoag women built ceramic cooking pots from coils of clay.  The round bottom, which was supported by stones in the hearth, helped evenly heat the contents.  The woman who made this pot decorated the top corners with images of corn.




 Soapstone tobacco pipe, found in Plymouth County MA

4.         Tobacco pipe, soapstone, Plymouth County, MA

For Native people, tobacco is sacred.  It is not just used for recreation, but also for religious ceremonies. This pipe is carved from green soapstone with incised designs.




 5,000 year-old Native arrowhead, found at Plimoth Plantation

5.         Projectile point (Brewerton notched arrowhead), rhyolite, 5,500-4,500 years before present, excavated at Plimoth Plantation

Arrowheads and spear points were used in hunting. Men were the hunters in Wampanoag culture and they knapped their projectile points from both local and imported stone.




 Brass point found at Plimoth Plantation

6.         Brass point, 1500-1600, excavated at Plimoth Plantation

Native men made projectile points of stone, bone and antler for thousands of years.  When Europeans began trading with Native people, they traded brass kettles for furs.  Since Native people already had cooking pots made of clay, they cut up the brass kettles and used the pieces for implements and adornment.




 Granite fishing sinker found in Plymouth County MA

7.         Net sinker, granite, Plymouth, MA

Fish and shellfish were an important part of the Wampanoag diet. Men fished in both deep and shallow water. Wide seine or tidal nets, weighted with stone sinkers tied to the edges, were used to catch fish near the shore.



 Native stone tool

8.         Stone celt or ax, diorite, from the Hockomock Swamp near Bridgewater, MA, given in memory of Leonard McCue by Ethel D’Amario and Virgil McCue

Axes, made of stone shaped by pecking, were used for working wood. Men used stone axes and adzes to make mishoonash (canoes).  A tree trunk was gradually shaped into a boat using fire. Stone tools were used to scrape out the burned wood.




 Wampum bead work at Plimoth Plantation

9.         Wampum bead (reproduction)

Wampum was made from the quahog (clam) shell. While often used to make necklaces, earrings and bracelets for adornment, it was also woven into belts in patterns that recorded treaties and other agreements. Dutch traders, realizing how much natives valued wampum, began manufacturing it and using it as a type of money. Different colored beads had different values -- purple was the most valuable.




 1720 Map of "New England"

10.       Map, Nova Anglia, by Johan Baptiste Homann, German, 1720

Within 100 years of the Pilgrims’ arrival, English Colonists had built towns in most of Wampanoag territory. This map shows the “Wampanoos,” pushed to the western part of their traditional homeland.

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